Report: Japan to lessen restrictions on U.S. beef

Japan is slated to reduce import restrictions on U.S. beef next year, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Once Japan’s health ministry receives approval from Japan’s Food Safety Commission, the ministry will increase the age limit on U.S. beef from 20 months to 30 months and younger, according to the article.

The limits originally were imposed to guard against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) after BSE was found in the U.S. in 2003. Japan resumed U.S. beef imports in 2005, with the condition that the meat come from cows 20 months old or younger.

In 2003, the U.S. supplied more than 267,000 tons of beef to Japan. Industry officials hope the easing the restrictions will help return U.S. beef exports to Japan to pre-20 month restriction levels, according to media reports.

Once the restrictions are eased, about 95 percent of U.S. beef will fall within the guidelines for export, according to Beef Magazine.

Earlier this year, the USDA approved imports of some Japanese beef (including the vaunted Kobe) after implementing import restrictions in 2010 following a foot and mouth disease outbreak.

To read the full story from Bloomberg, click here.

To read the full story from Beef Magazine, click here.

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